Warning: This is a BIRTH story. It’s graphic by nature and not for shock value. The pics are pretty tame, but you’ll have to decide on the narrative yourself.
I Lost 30 Pounds in 3 Hours . . . This is How I Did It
This is probably not the most common way to begin a birth story, but in my view birth is a completely paradoxical experience. People talk about how it is one of the most sacred, life-changing experiences a woman can have.
So true . . . but no one reverently whispered amen when I pointed my bum at them and began pushing Babypotamus out on my hands and knees. They may have prayed, but it was probably along different lines. Anyway . . .
There is a lot of talk about how empowering it is. Which, again, is totally true . . . as long as you’re first willing to feel the full brunt force of all your weakness, own up to it and then move past it.
There are other paradoxes, too. Time, for instance. Technically, I was in active labor for about 3 hours. What that doesn’t include was the far more difficult early labor that lasted 31 hours. The numbers are two sides of the same coin, but they sure do look different depending on which side I tell people about!
Dr. Cindy and Me
This is My Story: Irreverent and Honest With Some Mushy Parts, Too
Friday, September 10. 10:35 pm – Text from me to my midwife Cindy on her birthday – “How long can wine hold off labor? If I wake up tonight is it even possible to delay for 24 hours?”
10:37 pm – Response from Cindy – “Will only hold it off if it’s very early or warm up labor”
10:37 pm – Me to Cindy – “Okay just checking.”
10:38 pm – Response from Cindy – You know u r cracking me up. You still have an hour and 20 min ; – ) [To have the baby before midnight]
10:49 pm – Me to Cindy – You don’t know the half of it. I am standing in my birthday suit in the kitchen because I am washing my pants (the only ones that fit right now) so they will be clean in case I go into labor. Talk about paranoid. Going to bed now before doing something completely insane.”
Looking back, I wasn’t paranoid. Somewhere deep within I felt my body warming up for labor just an hour shy of the one day I didn’t want Babypotamus to be born.That’s the long and short of how my plans for this birth flipped upside down.
Fight or Flight
At Katie’s birth I had been timid and hesitant rather than proactive, practically running from the pain until I was completely spent. Because of that (and the fact that Katie was born with her fist up around her face) labor was a lot more difficult than it had to be. This time I planned to throw myself into the process wholeheartedly so that I could make progress while I still had the energy to finish.
Unfortunately, the last thing I wanted to do on September 11 was make progress and have a baby, so when I felt my body warming up I tried to stall it with warm baths, resting, etc. I have dubbed that 17 hour stretch Groundhog Day for labor. I wouldn’t let my body go forward and it wouldn’t go back, so I had the same. exact. contraction. All day long. By the end of the day I felt like I’d had a battering ram applied to the lower front of my pelvis. Great, I thought, I haven’t even started yet and I already feel black and blue on the inside. Looking back, this is probably a huge part of the reason this labor ended up being so difficult. But I am getting ahead of myself . . .
When we got within a few hours of September 12 I was ready to work. We called our birth team “first responder” – Alexa – who is a mother of four and a doula. When she walked in around 10:45 I looked up at her kind, comforting expression and briefly forgot I was in labor.
Alexa began helping me find different positions to labor in. She rubbed my hands and feet, focusing on pressure points that help with pain around my ankles. With her guidance and encouragement and Daniel’s strength I finally ventured out for a walk in my neighborhood (If you’re new to the natural labor scenario, walking often does a lot to help labor progress).
She may have regretted that when I kindly puked all over the sidewalk AND her feet following a strong contraction.
Alexa was the only member of my birth team that wasn’t already a friend (or friend of a friend) prior to me getting pregnant, but that didn’t stop us from chatting about GMO’s in between contractions. She was totally in tune with me and didn’t miss a beat when I randomly blurted out “I like lizards.” Yes, I was borderline hallucinating at that point. At least I wasn’t back in Smurf Central like with Katie’s birth.
By 4:00 am (23 hours since my first early labor signs) I was exhausted. I’d worked hard, puked harder, and I was ready to know if it was getting me anywhere. We called Dr. Cindy and asked her to come check me. I thought I should be a 6-7 by then (okay I was really thinking 8 . . . I had worked hard!), so when she told me I was a 3-4 I was crushed. All that work for a THREE?
Since Cindy is also a chiropractor she gave me a quick exam and identified the problem. Babypotamus’ head was engaged deeply into my pelvis, which is usually very good. Unfortunately, it had engaged at a weird angle that was thwarting my ability to progress yet spurring my body to continue to try.
If I Ever Have Another Baby . . .
I am going to get adjusted immediately when I go into labor. I wasted 24 hours on contractions that were only partially effective. If that is going to be the case then they should hurt half as much! Since I don’t know how to work that kind of deal I want full payment for my pain.
Cindy adjusted my hips and gave me two options:
A) Keep going despite being up for over 24 hours.
B) Take a Benadryl or 1/3 cup wine to help my body slow down and rest before it geared up again.
Since I obviously had a long road ahead, I opted B for Benadryl. I really wanted the wine (I LOVE red wine and I’d purchased an organic, sulfite-free bottle just in case), but I only wanted to take one shot at sedation and Cindy thought my body would be more responsive to the Benadryl. We sent our birth team home and settled into bed for a few hours rest.
It didn’t work.Baby’s head was too deeply engaged to allow the contractions to stop. I tried sleeping on the bed . . . no dice. Sitting backwards on the toilet. Nope. My attempt to rest ended up with me yelling deliriously in the background while Daniel dialed Cindy’s number.
She arrived a few minutes later and recommended we try the birthing tub. The morning was spent laboring in a deep pool of warm water, which compared to everything else up to that point was heaven, but compared to everyday life is ahem, much more like the other place.
Despite having succeeded before, by this point I lost confidence in my ability to finish birthing Babypotamus at home. I could not seem to get on the same page with myself . . . either I was resting while my body tried to labor or vice-versa. To help things keep moving (or at least give this thing a fighting chance) Dr. Cindy coaxed me out of the tub and got me to try some new positions.
Between each contraction I kept hearing the phrase “transport” in my head. I imagined the OB cutting me open and pulling a big flap of my stomach up to get my baby. I thought of my baby entering the world while I layed on an operating table, unconscious and unable to be an advocate for him. I imagined the dingy cast of flourescent lights and rough, impersonal hands enveloping our baby. I imagined goop being slapped in his eyes and needles in his body while a nurse whisks him to the nursery to give him a bottle of goodness knows what. I wish I could say my mind never went there, but it did.*
* I know this is not what every cesarean is like, but it was my imagination of the worst-case scenario. The only doctor I trust was not within range and therefore I would be stuck with a complete stranger had we needed to transport. That scared me.
Read My Comment Policy
Oh Heather…wow. I am reading your story sitting at the edge of my seat. I can literally FEEL every emotion….since they were all too familiar to how I felt with Austin’s birth. Cant wait to hear/read the rest. Hugs to you…
Thanks, Lesley! I can’t ever tell when I write about topics like this if I am communicating anything worthwhile. Of course my birth story is interesting to ME . . . they’re MY BABIES! But I always wonder if anyone else can relate . . . if my experience resonates with anyone else, you know?
Can’t wait to read the ending!!!
Saturday is all about Birth! If you’re local to DFW read my story and then come to the DFW premiere of Birth, the play by Karen Brody!
Crystal - Prenatal Coach
I’m completely swept up in your story, I can’t wait to read the rest 🙂
I find it SO interesting that your midwife is also a chiropractor. I have an AMAZING chiropractor who I plan to continue seeing through my pregnancy. I told him that I want a ‘home visit’ right after I have the baby and he suggested that he come check me when I go into labour which I think is a great idea! So excited to read that someone else has done this 🙂
Crystal – I HIGHLY recommend chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Honestly, I can’t say enough about how it helped with aches, pains . . . even helping baby get into the right position! My chiro uses something called the Webster technique that is very helpful for turning breech babies. It’s so gentle and effective. Although mine were never breech toward the end, my chiro used the technique throughout my third trimester to help baby get used to being head down. It was wonderful!
yeah, i’m not buying that “early labor” nonsense – when i was in early labor with Myles, i was shopping at Walmart – you weren’t in any condition to go shopping so i’m gonna go ahead and call that active labor!! i can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!!
as i prepare for my sweet boy to arrive anytime in the next few weeks i am reminded of my first birth experience. i have been working hard to let that go and focus on my new mantra of release and let go. to trust my body and to trust my baby… i am ready. and i thank you for sharing your story. you are a beautiful, powerful woman. enjoy this special bonding time. (loved seeing your daughter sing to your newborn – i can’t wait to see my toddler hugging his baby brother for the first time.) xoxo
Thank you, Shannon! Praying for a beautiful, butter birth at the perfect time for you!
Are.You.Kidding…we have to wait till the WEEKEND???? SO, so unfair! Just kidding. Love your story! I really cannot wait to read the rest. Really. Like, if you feel like moving it up a day or two or want to post it even later today, I bet no one would mind. Just saying…
Thanks, Tana! I’m glad you still want to hear from me after all these wonderful guest posts 🙂 I am seriously tempted to “retire” after the guest posts run out because I’m not sure how to match such awesome content in my sleep-deprived state!
I can identify with you picturing the transport scenario. At first, I was SO tired that I thought for a brief sec., that it might be a better option, but the further into the scenario I got (like, of them taking my baby away, etc.), I decided I wasn’t going there, if I could help it. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!
Thanks for sharing. This story is my story, down to the whole 30 hour pre-labor and all. Literally every part of your story is like mine. Unfortunately, I did end up transfering, which I now regret. I’ve really had some emotional struggles about it. I guess I didn’t have all that going through my brain when I decided to go. Now that I have gone through it, I hope that those things will go through my brain if I have a similar labor (praying to God that it’s a little faster next time:). I hated my post-partum, although, I liked my doc, who was my back-up in the first place. He wasn’t Mr. Happy Hands (so to speak), and I did deliver vaginally. Hope I can have a very successful home birth the next go round:) Thanks again for the story! Nice to know this happens. I think when I was in the moment, I got scared and thought I wouldn’t have the energy to finish it, and that my baby would distress. I had no idea that this kind of slow labor happens and that there is nothing wrong with it. Can’t wait to hear how your birth team supported you in your birth and what the outcome was:)
Thanks for your comment, Lindsay. In this era of inductions and scheduled births I think most people are unaware that long labors are normal, especially for first-time moms. We are not used to letting things take their time anymore . . . a point which was never more obvious to me than when people asked me when I was due. When I went past my date and said “a week and a half ago” they looked confused, like “well, why don’t you just induce already?”
On a different note, I just want to add that I’m so grateful for your honesty about your experience and I would like to hear more about it if you want to share.
Thanks, Kelly. I’m enjoying watching your story unfold as well. I love that your dreams are coming true!
I can’t wait to read the rest!
So glad you are able to document all the details as well as sharing your heart and how you feel about everything. It’s so important to be open and honest about how we feel vs. other versions others tells us about our birth. Only the mama has the raw and real version! I don’t think you could ever bore us…love you!
Speaking as a mom of an almost 2 yr old whose birth story is yet to be totally written down, I am so proud of you for getting this done :). And, see, I told you- like Esther says- no version is “incorrect” or not accurate. Your side of the story can be different from another. But as the mom, it is YOUR birth story. I am so glad you are sharing it because I know everyone is anxious to read. Everytime I think back on it, I just smile because the Lord is so faithful! He showed up and delivered you and Micah :). I am so blessed to have played a small role in the whole thing. Love you guys!
Girl, you look GOOD in labor! Breathe-right strip and all 🙂 How precious to have photos of the last hours Micah was inside of you.
I saw some of your pictures on Lyndsey’s blog…I am glad I am going to have her at my birth in March! What a beautiful memory. I was wondering how Katie handled the labor and birth and all? My little girl is SOOOO excited about her new baby coming, so I can’t imagine her missing the big event, but I am wondering if she’s too young. She’ll be one month short of 3 years old on the big day, and since we’re planning a home birth I feel it would be normal to have her there….I feel like she could handle it okay since she’s no stranger to seeing me screaming and crying (yes- I have a strong willed child and an often short temper!) but I have also heard of kids having really negative reactions after seeing their mommy in pain and being scared by it.
Lynsey is amazing! Other than my midwife she is pretty much the FIRST person I called when I found out I was pregnant 🙂
I really wanted to have Katie present at th birth and I won’t ruin part 2 where I go into how it worked out. What I will say is that Katie is just three months shy of 3yrs. Our plan was to have her present unless she showed signs of being uncomfortable. If that happened we arranged to have someone she felt safe with (her Gigi or aunt Kiki) take her out of the room and play with her. All I can say is it was a good plan and I will do it again if we get pregnant while Micah is still young.
I love your tale and glad that I made the edit:) So happy to be there and attend such a sweet family experience. And, by the way, I’m cool with discussing GMO’s during labor and I will probably never look at microwaved popcorn the same again. Every time my oldest daughter makes some, I think, “Oh gee, Heather would die!” I think I may have to go buy an old fashioned popper!
I can’t wait to see Micah and Katie soon!
Can’t wait for Part 2!
sounds pretty spot on of what my cesarean was like. exactly actually.
thank god for awesome midwives who educated me and prepared me for baby #2. I had an incredible vbac at home about 8 months ago. life changing experience.
My story was very similar, in total I was in labor for 40 hours, my baby boy was crooked and he had pulled my cervix to the side.
I started needing to push around 7am that last day, but my midwife wasn’t there yet and I was afraid of the pain ( after such a long labor). I ended up having him at 9:11am.
I also ended up taking benadryl to try to get a nap in during the whole thing. lol